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3 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM

Brain tumours in adults

WebMD Medical Reference
Brain tumours in adults

No one knows what causes brain tumours; there are only a few known risk factors that have been established by research. Children who receive radiation to the head have a higher risk of developing a brain tumour as adults, as do people who have certain rare genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis or Li-Fraumeni syndrome. But those cases represent a fraction of the approximately 87,000 new primary brain tumours diagnosed each year in the United States. Age is also a risk factor. People between ages 65 and 79 make up the population most likely to be diagnosed with a brain tumour.

A primary brain tumour is one that originates in the brain, and most primary brain tumours are benign. That means they aren't cancerous; benign tumours are not aggressive and normally do not spread to surrounding tissues, although they can be serious and even life-threatening.

 

What is a tumor?

A tumour is a mass of tissue that's formed by an accumulation of abnormal cells. Normally, the cells in your body age, die, and are replaced by new cells. With cancer and other tumours, something disrupts this cycle. Tumour cells grow, even though the body does not need them, and unlike normal old cells, they don't die. As this process goes on, the tumour continues to grow as more and more cells are added to the mass.

Primary brain tumours emerge from the various cells that make up the brain and central nervous system and are named for the kind of cell in which they first form. The most common types of adult brain tumours are gliomas as in astrocytic tumors. These tumours form from astrocytes and other types of glial cells, which are cells that help keep nerves healthy.

The second most common type of adult brain tumours are meningeal tumours. These form in the meninges, the thin layer of tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord. They’re an example of benign brain tumours that can cause complications as a result of pressure.

 

What's the difference between benign and malignant brain tumours?

Benign brain tumours are noncancerous. Malignant primary brain tumours are cancers that originate in the brain, typically grow faster than benign tumours, and aggressively invade surrounding tissue. Although brain cancer rarely spreads to other organs, it can spread to other parts of the brain and central nervous system.

Benign brain tumours usually have clearly defined borders and usually are not deeply rooted in brain tissue. This makes them easier to surgically remove, assuming they are in an area of the brain that can be safely operated on. But even after they've been removed, they can still come back, although benign tumours are less likely to recur than malignant ones.

Although benign tumours in other parts of the body can cause problems, they are not generally considered to be a major health problem or to be life-threatening. But even a benign brain tumour can be a serious health problem. Brain tumours can damage the cells around them by causing inflammation and putting increased pressure on the tissue under and around it as well as inside the skull.

What are the symptoms of a brain tumour in adults?

Symptoms of brain tumours vary according to the type of tumor and the location. Because different areas of the brain control different functions of the body, where the tumor lies affects the way symptoms are manifested.

Some tumours have no symptoms until they are quite large and then cause a serious, rapid decline in health. Other tumours may have symptoms that develop slowly.

A common initial symptom of a brain tumour is headaches. Often, they don't respond to the usual headache remedies. Keep in mind that most headaches are unrelated to brain tumours.

 

Other symptoms include:

Seizures

Changes in speech or hearing

Changes in vision

Balance problems

Problems with walking

Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs

Problems with memory

Personality changes

Inability to concentrate

Weakness in one part of the body

Morning vomitting without nausea

It's important to keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by a number of different conditions. Don't assume you have a brain tumour just because you experience some of them. Check with your doctor.

How are brain tumours diagnosed?

To diagnose a brain tumour, the doctor starts by asking questions about your symptoms and taking a personal and family health history. Then he or she performs a physical exam, including a neurological exam. If there's reason to suspect a brain tumour, the doctor may request one or more of the following tests:

Imaging studies such as a CT(CAT) scan or MRI to see detailed images of the brain

Angiogram or MRA, which involve the use of dye and X-rays of blood vessels in the brain to look for signs of a tumour or abnormal blood vessels

The doctor may also ask for a biopsy to determine whether or not the tumour is cancer. A tissue sample is removed from the brain either during surgery to remove the tumour or with a needle inserted through a small hole drilled into the skull before treatment is started. The sample is then sent to a lab for testing.

How are brain tumours treated?

Surgery to remove the tumor is typically the first option once a brain tumour has been diagnosed. However, some tumours can't be surgically removed because of their location in the brain. In those cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be options for killing and shrinking the tumour. Sometimes, chemotherapy or radiation is also used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. Tumours that are deep in the brain or in areas that are difficult to reach may be treated with Gamma Knife therapy, which is a form of highly focused radiation therapy.

Because treatment for cancer also can damage healthy tissue, it's important to discuss possible side and long-term effects of whatever treatment is being used with your doctor. The doctor can explain the risk and the possibility of losing certain faculties.

The doctor can also explain the importance of planning for rehabilitation following treatment. Rehabilitation could involve working with several different therapists, such as:

Physical therapist to regain strength and balance

Speech therapist to address problems with speaking, expressing thoughts, or swallowing

Occupational therapist to help manage daily activities such as using the bathroom, bathing, and dressing.

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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